Aski Awasis/Children of the Earth

First Peoples Speaking on Adoption

Edited by Jeannine Carrière  

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The adoption of Aboriginal children into non-Aboriginal families has a long and contentious history in Canada. Life stories told by First Nations people reveal that the adoption experience has been far from positive for these communities and has, in fact, been an integral aspect of colonization. In an effort to decolonize adoption practices, the Yellowhead Tribal Services Agency (YTSA) in Alberta has integrated customary First Peoples’ adoption practices with provincial adoption laws and regulations. Introducing this unique agency, the authors outline the history of First Nations adoptions and, through an interview with a YTSA Elder, describe the adoption ceremonies offered at YTSA. Themes that emerged from interviews with adoptive parents and youth who have been adopted through this new integrated practice are also explored, and important recommendations for policy and practice in First Nations adoption are offered.

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  • Dedication (Cindy Yellowface)
  • Foreword (Joey Hamelin)
  • Personal Location and Context (Jeannine Carrière)
  • Maintaining Identities: The Soul Work of Adoption and Aboriginal Children (Jeannine Carrière)
  • Adoption Practices: A First Nation Perspective (Grace Atkinson)
  • Yellowhead Tribal Services Agency Open Custom Adoption Program (Carolyn Peacock and Deborah Morin)
  • Teachings from Bluestone Yellowface (Darin Keewatin)
  • YTS A Families: Their Experiences and Recommendations for Practice (Jeannine Carrière)
  • Conclusion (Jeannine Carrière)


  • Jeannine Carrière

    University of Victoria

    Dr. Jeannine Carrière is a Metis woman originally from the Red River area of Manitoba. Her educational background includes a PhD in Human Ecology Family Studies, an MSW a BSW and a BA in Sociology. She is an Associate Professor at the University Of Victoria School Of Social Work in the Indigenous Specialization. Her research interests include child and adoption and issues of identity, mental health, and Indigenous ways of knowing and knowledge transfer. Dr. Carriere has several publications in these research areas and serves on a number of volunteer committees related to Aboriginal child welfare. In 2008 she received the Adoption Activist award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC).

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